First Two Months of My First Teaching Job

This blog really needed to be updated with important news: I got a teaching job!

When I finished with student teaching, I wasn't sure there'd be a position for me in Ketchikan this year. Now, however, I've already worked two months in my first job as a salaried teacher! Let me describe my work and explain a few of my thoughts:

our logo (credit: Ken Decker)
Every morning I head to the Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC) building in downtown Ketchikan for the Tribal Scholars Program. Tribal Scholars is an alternative high school option for students enrolled in KIC who can benefit from a smaller, closely-knit learning environment and more individualized teaching. The students attend from 8 to noon and focus on learning the four core subjects of math, science, social studies, and language arts from three different teachers. Each subject gets about an hour of time, and my responsibility is social studies, so I get an hour a day to teach world history and American government.

Every day at lunchtime, I travel across town to Ketchikan High School (Kayhi). On days I don't have my car, I ride the bus with my Tribal Scholars students. Then after lunch I teach two periods of a Native Student Support Services class—a study skills or study hall class targeted at helping Native students with their academic work, although there are some non-Native students enrolled too. Believe it or not, teaching a study hall class can be stressful sometimes: I find myself feeling obligated to worry about all my students' bad grades in all their classes, and it was tough in the first few weeks to find a balance between structured classroom rules and giving students the freedom to succeed on their own initiative.

Above all else, though, it is truly a privilege to be able to speak with each and every one of my students, every day. So many other secondary teachers across the United States teach a hundred or more students at a time—responsible for twenty to thirty students in a class (or more!) and five or six classes in a day. When I was student teaching last year and had 125 students, some days I'd realize I missed talking to a student I really needed to talk to—someone who was missing an assignment or needed help, but I was just too busy to get to them. Now, though, I have the ability to touch base and connect with every one of my students each day. It's really quite nice, and I wish every teacher had that opportunity.